Elephants in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya's Matthews Range.
Aerial View of Elephants Elephants in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya's Matthews Range. © Ami Vitale

Meet our Donors

Meet Joanna Brown

NRT-Trading Volunteer for BeadWORKS, U.S. Sales & Marketing, and Legacy Club Member

Joanna Brown’s conservation path has crossed many states and countries. She and her husband Stuart, whose grandmother cofounded The Nature Conservancy in Kentucky, have served as volunteers, board members and donors to TNC in Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, Massachusetts, the Caribbean and Africa.

Joanna’s latest stopping point: Kenya. “I happened to see a notice in a TNC trustee newsletter looking for a volunteer to help connect BeadWORKS with the global marketplace, so I reached out to learn more.

I asked, ‘How will I communicate with the BeadWORKS staff in Kenya?’ and the TNC volunteer at the time told me I would need to live there for a year!

On the initial call, I asked, ‘How will I communicate with the BeadWORKS staff in Kenya?’ and the TNC volunteer at the time told me I would need to live there for a year!” says Joanna. Her business acumen, honed while running an independent bookshop in Colorado, and keen interest in elephants, rhinos and other African wildlife made her the right fit for the job, and after discussing it with her family, she set out for this new challenge.

Beads of Change

Joyce Lelukai leads a group of women artisans who are a part of BeadWORKS, a program of TNC’s partner Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya. Five percent of BeadWORKS revenues are given back to community conservancies to be used for development activities such as school bursaries.

Learn more about BeadWORKS
A mom and son smile at each other as she puts on his shoes.
A group of people pose while holding a large check.
An elephant among dry grasses and green shrubs, with mountains in the background.
Munira Bashir, Kenya Program Director
Hands sew colorful beads onto a black strap.

Joanna picked up from where her BeadWORKS volunteer predecessor, former Minnesota trustee and fellow Legacy Club member Anne Knapp, had left off. Thanks in large part to the dedication of these two women, the number of retail outlets that carry BeadWORKS handicrafts in the U.S., Canada and Europe multiplied from five to 65 in four years. “I was honored to lift up the talents of women to help them support their families, their communities and the environments that sustain them,” says  Joanna. “From those to whom much is given, much is expected. This important work will carry on—through my four children and through my bequest to TNC.”

I was honored to lift up the talents of women to help them support their families, their communities and the environments that sustain them.

Joanna Brown’s support transcends place and time. She is enabling meaningful conservation today through her volunteer service in Kenya and a leadership gift to TNC’s Last Great Places Society. She also became a member of The Legacy Club when she named TNC as a beneficiary in her estate plan